Imagine your acceptance into medical school came with an automatic study partner you’ve known since birth, who lives with you – and who looks a lot like you. That’s reality for this group of future doctors.
The University at Buffalo admitted three sets of twins and two brothers to its Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences class of 2027.
It’s the first time in the program’s history that eight siblings are expected to graduate from the school together, Director of Admissions Dr. Dori Marshall said.
The school didn’t deliberately set out to accept the students because they were siblings, Marshall told CNN. “We do look carefully at local kids, and all four of the sibling sets have roots here in western New York,” she said.
That makes 4% of the 2027 class siblings, which might encourage a sense of unity for the entire medical school, Marshall told CNN. “Obviously, these eight students have that built-in, in a special way, but I hope that it just enhances the feeling of family for all of our students,” said Marshall.
Chidalu and Chidera Anameze, 21, are the only identical twins in the group and they are inseparable. The sisters never spent more than a day away from each other, they told CNN. “We do everything together,” Chidera and Chidalu said in sync.
“So, we’re basically best friends,” Chidalu added.
Not only do they share the same DNA sequence and practically the same face – but becoming doctors has always been a mutual goal for them, the sisters said.
Both of their parents work in the medical field, which inspired them to do the same. “We’ve been interested since we were children,” Chidera said.
“It’s just having someone go in with that’ll hold you accountable. We’ll always be on top of each other to be successful,” Chidalu said.
Twins Camryn and Marisa Warren, 21, are also starting the UB’s medical program. They recall receiving their acceptance into Jacobs School of Medicine at the “same exact minute.”
“Our mom was like over the moon and our dad was just really proud of us,” Marisa said.
“They knew that we really wanted to do this for a long time,” Camryn added.
Marisa has wanted to be a doctor for as long as she can remember, she told CNN. “I was kind of like your 3-year-old that was dressing up as a doctor. I was asking for anatomy kits for Christmas,” Marisa said.
And after two weeks in the program, having each other has already proved to be helpful in their coursework, the twins said.
“It’s like having a study partner that you’re able to vent to,” Marisa said. “Like how classes are going, or I can ask how this process in biochemistry works. It’s just kind of a whole package deal and it works out.”
Hannah and Josef Iqbal, 22, are the brother-and-sister duo of the twin pack.
Their parents instilled partnership in them at an early age. “Even though we’re both boy and girl, our mom would sign us up for the same activities when we were younger,” Hannah told CNN. “I liked tap dancing. Then my mom made my brother do it with me even though he didn’t like that. And then she made me do baseball with him, even though I was scared of getting hit by the baseball,” Hannah recalled.
While some consider the Iqbal twins “polar opposites”, it’s still helpful to experience medical school together, Josef said. “We complement each other.”
With all the pressures medical school can bring, the twins said, having each other lightens the load. “It’s really a calming factor for me,” Hannah said.
Eric and Stephen Dhillon are the two brothers in the program. Although they’re not twins, sharing the same birthday couldn’t make these brothers any closer, they said.
“We’ve always been very close,” Stephen, 24, said.
“I was two years ahead of Eric in school … and we played lots of sports together, especially ice hockey,” Stephen added.
Stephen played professional ice hockey for six years, and 23-year-old Eric played for a year. Eric completed his undergraduate studies in three years, which placed the brothers on the same track for medical school after Stephen left the league. “Now we have another thing in common. We have the same class, same schedule. It’s just amazing,” Eric said.
Although their medical school journey has just begun, becoming doctors in Buffalo is the ultimate goal, the brothers said. “Unfortunately, the Buffalo community does not have the greatest social determinants of health,” Stephen said.
“To be able to give back to the community on a greater level with a medical education would be great.”
The admissions of the twins bring more than shared DNA to the medical school. They’re also bringing diversity.
The Anameze twins are Nigerian, the Iqbal twins are South Asian, and the Warren sisters are biracial. Half of the 2027 class are people of color, Marshall noted. Their arrival comes after the US Supreme Court’s recent overturning of affirmative action in college admissions policy – which set new, “race-neutral” standards for universities in the US.
“I’m disappointed to see the overturn of affirmative action because I think that makes such a difference in people of color and women’s lives,” Camryn said.
The medical school hopes to continue to “have the classes mirror the diversity of our community,” Marshall said.
About 5.7% of physicians in the US identified as Black or African American, according to 2021 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, while Black people made up an estimated 12% of the nation’s population, according to the US Census Bureau.
Chidera and Chidalu embrace their Nigerian heritage and say it’s important that they carry on their family’s legacy of working in the medical field. “We’ve always been interested in filling that gap and being a resource to Black women in the community,” Chidera said.